Bullet journal glossary for beginners
Planning & Organization

Bullet Journal Glossary For Beginners

When coming across a bullet journal for the first time, you’ve surely noticed there are many new terms and you probably felt like you need a bullet journal glossary for beginners that would explain those words in a way that you can actually understand what they all mean.

Now, to be clear, I (and many other people) also had an issue with the bullet journal language when starting out, so don’t think you’re alone on this one.

As you will see, most of the terms do not refer to something new and they point to the same thing as they do in other planning methods, but for some reason, they’re named differently in the bullet journal method.

Here’s a bullet journal glossary for beginners with a mixed list of terms that are used in different aspects of bullet journaling – from those that are related to notebooks, to its structure, pages, way of planning, and writing.

Let’s start decoding the bullet journal language! 😉


Bleeding is a term that refers to a specific trait of certain pens and/or markers and fineliners.

It describes the penetration of ink that is so heavy that it can be clearly seen on the opposite side of the page. (which is quite annoying and can make a page to be almost useless, so that’s one good reason to use a swatch page for your pens first)

Bleeding usually occurs if you use pens with alcohol-based ink or if your journal has a low GSM number.


BuJo is a shortened word for bullet journal – a notebook where you organize and plan out your days using the bullet journal method.

I’ve also seen people who use the term buju to describe the same thing. 


Collections are the pages of your bullet journal that do not refer to the “traditional” yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily planning. Instead, they keep your other plans or information in one place.

For example, you can have a page (or pages) dedicated to some project, or pages that behave like a book journal (with books to read and reading tracker), pages to plan out your holiday, budget, or your self-care routine, or have pages where you’ll keep the phone numbers, e-mails, and addresses, and many more.

You can create a collection page for whatever interests you and whatever you want to keep in your bullet journal. Therefore, collection pages are all those different spreads that you usually don’t find in an average planner, but you’d like to pay attention to.

If you’re interested to see some examples of these spreads, feel free to check out bullet journal collection page ideas.

Printable bullet journal templates - collection pages set


Dailies are the same as daily pages where you can write down all the details you need for a specific day.

Since dailies are created as separate pages for individual days, whether or not you’ll use them in your bullet journal will depend on how “busy” your days are and how much information you want to add to each of your days.

Some people don’t use dailies (I’m among them, too!) since they find weeklies to be quite sufficient to organize and plan out their days.

Dot journal

A dot journal is the type of notebook that’s usually used in bullet journaling.

Unlike a blank notebook which has clear pages, or lined or graph notebooks that have lines and grids respectively, a dot journal is a notebook in which pages have dots positioned at an equal distance both in rows and columns.

You can use any of these notebooks for bullet journaling.

However, because the dots in a dot journal are less “invasive” to an eye, compared to lined or graph notebooks, and still serve as some form of guide (which blank paper notebooks clearly don’t have), they have become a favorite choice of notebook many like to use in bullet journaling.

Dutch doors

Dutch doors is a term for a specific way of creating your spread.

It is made by cutting out the page of your bullet journal to a smaller size. This creates an effect of a door that’s nested between two regular pages of a bullet journal.

This can be a fun spread to try out since you can “hide” certain elements beneath these “doors”. It can also be quite functional when creating, for example, your monthly spreads – if you want to keep certain elements fixed during the whole month so you can easily see them no matter what weekly page you currently use. (plus, you don’t have to create these elements each time on a separate weekly spread)

Bullet journal Dutch doors example
Example of a “Dutch Door”. My monthly goals and habit tracker sections are always there no matter what week of the month it is.

Flip through

Flip through is a pretty straightforward term for flipping through the pages of somebody’s bullet journal.

The term is often found in YouTube videos where you usually get to see a person’s entire monthly bullet journal setup, often with a specific theme.

Future log

A future log is a page (or pages) in your bullet journal that can be best described as a year at a glance or a yearly overview page.

You create a future log by placing the months of the year with enough blank space for each one so you can write down your future plans for the year ahead. 

Some people also like to place a small monthly calendar next to each month in their future log, while some others like to write down all the dates for each month. 

I like to have simple boxes for months with no dates inside them, so I can place both the events that do and don’t have a specific date in a corresponding month.

Overall, the future log is a way to see the “big picture” of the year ahead and add additional details as they come along.

Bullet journal future log example
An example of a future log spread.


Ghosting is a term that refers to the way some pens behave on certain paper.

It describes the lighter penetration of ink on a paper, such that its trace can be seen as a faded image on the opposite side. It’s similar to bleeding but less intense. Again, this is pen-specific and also depends on the thickness of the paper.


GSM is an abbreviation that stands for grams per square meter.

It represents the weight of a paper and also its thickness. The higher the number, the heavier and thicker the paper is.

Usually, an average notebook has 80 gsm, but you can find other weights of paper on both sides of the spectrum. (however, I don’t recommend using notebooks that have under 80 gsm)


An index is a page in a bullet journal that serves as a contents page. 

Just like a book has a contents page, an index page serves the same purpose. It is a place where you write down the titles of your spreads and place a page number next to it so you can easily find what you’re looking for. 

This comes as very handy when you have multiple pages with the same title (or topic) spread out throughout your bullet journal.


A key is a page in your bullet journal and it’s usually the first one you create at the very beginning of your notebook. It’s used as a “legend” page where you write down all the bullet journaling symbols that you’ll use throughout your bujo, as well as their meanings.

(if you’re curious to know more about it, take a look at the post Bullet Journal Key Page)

Bullet journal key page example
Example of a bullet journal key page.


A layout means the visual design of your bullet journal page. It refers to the way you structure and organize whatever items you need on a specific spread. 

For example, you can create a page that will have boxes where you will write specific items inside, or a page with a grid, or a page with just titles with blank space beneath, where you would, again, write down what you need.

Here you can take a look at the most common bullet journal layout templates that are used for many different bullet journal pages.


When talking about lettering in a bullet journal, we usually consider it as a synonym for hand lettering – the way you draw or illustrate letters in your BuJo.

Although your handwriting is also a form of lettering, there are many other ways to write letters in your bullet journal, but this – like many other possibilities a bullet journal has – is only an option, not a necessity.

For those who are good at lettering or want to improve this skill, using a bullet journal can be a good excuse to practice this form of art.


Migration is the word for the process of moving tasks to another date in your bullet journal.

During the migration process, you get an opportunity to additionally consider how important a task is since only the tasks that are still relevant but not yet completed should be those that get moved to a specific day.


Monthlies, or monthly spreads, are simply the monthly planner pages, where you can plan out your month in more detail. Depending on the design you’d want them to be, they are mostly created as one or two-page spreads.

Some like to make them in a calendar style, and others like to simply place the dates of the month, one beneath the other in separate rows.

You can also add other items to your monthlies that are relevant for the specific month but don’t have a specified date. For example, you can place a goal section, important/don’t forget section, or notes/ideas section.

Bullet journal monthly spread example
Example of a monthly spread.

Rapid logging

Rapid logging is a technique used in the bullet journal method.

It refers to capturing the tasks and ideas in a quick manner by writing them in a form of a short note(s) with a corresponding bullet symbol in front.


Spread is almost a synonym for the word page.

It’s a specific page (or pages) that’s “dedicated” to one task or purpose. What these tasks and purposes will be, will depend only on your specific needs and creativity, and you will surely use a number of different spreads throughout your bullet journal.

For example, you’ll have a page for your daily plan, a page to track your habits, a page to write down the birthdays, a page to note your passwords and login information, and so on… 

Since each one of these pages revolves around a specific “topic”, they’re all considered as spreads.

Now, if you’d mix all of these pieces of information in one page, it technically would not be a spread, since there’s no clear topic that binds them all together. However, I still haven’t seen a page that’s so mixed up and unorganized, so you can freely consider a spread to be equal to a page.

Swatch spreads

Swatch spreads are specific bullet journal pages that you use for testing out or displaying some of your bullet journaling supplies.

For example, you can have a swatch page where you would test out your fineliners and markers – to see their colors and the way they behave on paper.

You can also make a swatch page for your adhesive tapes or washi tapes collection, where you would display their patterns and designs.

Bullet journal swatch page example
Washi tape swatch spreads examples.


A theme is a term that describes the cohesive design of multiple bullet journal pages. 

It refers to using the same motif to decorate a number of bullet journal pages – which are usually the pages that belong to the same month (which means monthly, weekly, and daily spreads, as well as any other you may have that relates to a specific month – for example, cover page, habit tracker, mood tracker…).

Themes are completely optional, so you don’t have to make them if you don’t want to, or you can create an entire bullet journal in one theme, but it would certainly not be as fun and creative as if you’d have a different theme for each month.

Here you can take a look at some of my monthly bullet journal themes to get a better picture of what a theme means.


Trackers are bullet journal pages that you use to track basically whatever you want to track, usually on a daily basis. They are usually made to track a specific item for one month or for the entire year.

There are many trackers you can make, and some of the most common ones are a habit tracker, mood tracker, workout tracker, spending tracker, sleep, or a weather tracker.

You can check out the list of 150+ things to track to get the ideas for your tracker pages.

Bullet journal tracker page example
Example of a habit tracker spread.


Weeklies are pages where you plan out your week. Depending on your needs, they can be created as one-page or two-page spreads.

You can create a weekly spread that has defined places for each day of the week, or you can just list the tasks you should accomplish in a week, without appointing them to specific days.

You can also add whatever extras you want to have, note, plan, or track within that week. For example, you can leave a space for your weekly goals, have a weekly habit, mood, or weather tracker, or make a place to write down your weekly meal plan.

I believe this bullet journal glossary for beginners captures most of the unknown (or less known) words used in a bullet journaling language. 

If there’s some other term I forgot to mention, drop a line in the comments below and I’ll add it to the list. 

In case you’re a BuJo beginner looking for more explanations, have a look at the ultimate bullet journaling guide or most common bullet journal questions.

You can also follow me on Pinterest for more bullet journaling ideas, tips, and inspiration. 😉

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